Brigade Surgeon makes plans for Afghanistan mission
June 18, 2012
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Lieutenant Col. Robert Miller listens during the meeting while translators interpret information. He then places his elbow on the table while simultaneously placing his hand under his chin, to answer questions regarding the medical needs of Nadir Province, Afghanistan.
Miller, assigned as the Brigade Surgeon for 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will work directly with the doctors in the notional province for the duration of a training exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.
Though the doctors brought forth many issues the province faces, the main topics were: not having adequate drinking water, infant mortality rates and the need for midwives.
The doctors wanted to ensure the Soldiers were aware of how important their problems really are.
"The water is unsafe to drink," said one of the province doctors. "Some of the wells are barren and some even have dead bodies in them."
Miller, along with other attendees listened to these and other issues throughout the short meeting, which seemed longer than it actually was due to the sweltering heat from the desert sun.
For Miller, this notional regional medical meeting was an important training tool and something he could easily face in real life when he deploys to Afghanistan later this year.
"Meeting with the doctors helps give us a sense of the status of the areas of healthcare," said Miller.
The simulated meetings are taking place in conjunction with other situational exercises the brigade is participating in, at NTC.
Miller recalls the difference from when he was a doctor on his first deployment.
"Our mission will not be like when I deployed to Iraq," said the Akron, Ohio native. "Now we're transitioning from taking on huge projects to passing them to our counterparts, but still offering consultations."
Joining Miller in the meeting was Maj. John Harwood, the brigade's judge advocate, to identify any possible legal issues for proposed projects.
"Most of the projects (that need to be accomplished) will require money," said Harwood. "Anytime money is involved legal issues are attached."
More meetings will take place throughout the remainder of the exercise, but the mood of the room will become more intense to prep them for uneasy situations.
"For this meeting we were all on the same page," said Harwood. "When it gets out of hand that's what I'm here for."
"I almost second guessed myself during the meeting; it seemed real," said Miller.
"These simulated meetings have been great and extremely useful."